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The Look-Back Effect: Reflection

My semester topic was gender representation in popular media and culture. This is a topic
that has interested me for a few years now and I hoped to share my knowledge and learn
something new myself. As a young woman, gender has been a major factor shaping my
experiences with media and my view of American culture. Thinking back on it, I realized that
much of my understanding of gender and gender roles was impressed upon me by the books and
shows I grew up with. I wanted to come to a better understanding of the information I had
assimilated through these sources, and impart my discoveries to others in a partially objective
manor. Because this is a topic that concerns me personally, there is some degree of bias to my
writing. However, because I am a member of the group in concern (women and girls) I believe
that my perspective is a voice that should be heard and my experiences shared to those who
could relate, or those previously unaware.
For my revision I chose two of my previous assignments to combine into one. I was
satisfied with the outcome of my other semester projects so instead of refining them further, I
chose to combine the information I gathered for each into a new form. I revised the report and
the persuasive essay into an infographic. These were the two essays that I was most proud of and
felt I could build off of in a new and interesting way. The subject of the report was gender
representation in childrens media, and covered the underrepresentation of women and girls in
books and television aimed at a young demographic. I examined the long history of gender
disparity in American childrens books and the philosophies of publishers and producers that
favor male representation above female representation. This report included the most statistical
information and sources. I felt it was most effective for my argument to show how prevalent

gender inequality is as a solid, numerical value rather than the more abstract and debatable
figures of how much of what female representation there is, is inadequate or stereotypical;
though examples of those too were included because of their relevance to the discussion. My
persuasive essay analyzed how our language perpetuates assumptions of a male-centric
worldview. Most societal roles are subject to category labeling because historically women have
been limited to roles that have to do with traditionally feminine tasks such as child rearing and
household maintenance skills. In this essay I paid more attention to the ways women are
restricted to traditionally female roles despite recent advancements towards societal equality, as
ideological biases are ingrained in our culture and language.
Ultimately my message came down to visibility; the biggest problem facing gender
equality is that there are just so few women actually appearing in media. It becomes much more
difficult to approach the issue of female representation (ie: how they act and how others perceive
them) when females just arent being represented (ie: actually physically present) in significant
numbers. When a group of people is reduced to individual members of that group, such as there
being as few as one central female character in a story, that individual inevitably becomes a
representative of her entire demographic. This limits her to stereotypical roles and stunts the
presence of diverse and dynamic female characters. My goal of creating the infographic was to
present to an audience the facts of how women and girls arent visible as often as men and boys
are. For that I incorporated statistics I found when researching my report and converted them into
a visual format. I added a definition at the top of the graphic that was present in my persuasive
project because of how it tied into my topic. The entire graphic includes information and
important statements from the sources I used in both my report and persuasive project. At the
beginning I have the ratio of males to females in the United States as provided by the U.S. census

bureau to give a baseline of the real-life ratios of male and female. I decided to include my
sources at the end of the infographic (with citations sourcing every statement throughout)
because I wanted anyone reading it to be able to read them and learn the things that I had. While
my graphic was intended to present the information I had gathered in an organized and visually
appealing fashion, I also wanted to inspire inquiry and investigation into my topic. Graphics like
the one I made are one of the reasons I became curious about my topic. I would see them in my
schools and online; replicating this in my own way felt like a timely homage and exercise in my
new understanding.